Lifestyle

While Away 48 Hours in San Antonio, Zambales

Camping on the beach and appreciating fine art in just one weekend? Yes, please.
IMAGE Wikimedia Commons - Paranatours
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The town of San Antonio, Zambales has been on the radar for its lovely beaches, surreal coves, and Casa San Miguel, a haven for the arts. So if your ideal weekend is camping like Robinson Crusoe for one night and then staying at a heritage house and soaking up culture on the next, then San Antonio is the place for you.


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SATURDAY

7:00 a.m Park and Ride
Drive through the gates of Casa San Miguel and let the staff know that you’ve arrived. This mango orchard turned haven for the arts is going to be your home on your second night in Zambales. But for now, it's where your vehicle will be staying while you go beach hopping.

*If you’re not one who likes independent traveling, Casa San Miguel can arrange an island hopping tour for you that includes van transfer from San Antonio Town Proper, boat rental, three meals, and tents with beddings. Just book in advance. 


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7:30 a.m Off to the Market
Leave your camping gear—for now—and take a trike to San Antonio Public Market to buy provisions, a.k.a. food. While there are stores at Anawangin Cove, part of the whole camping experience is cooking your own food—or at least trying to make something edible over hot coals. Local Ilocano-Zambal dishes such as dinakdakan, igado, and pinakbet are also available in the market. Whether you decide to buy fresh ingredients or lutong bahay from the market, bring your own food containers to cut down on single-use plastic.

9:00 a.m. Beach Camping
Head back to Casa San Miguel to collect your camping gear, then take a trike to Pundaquit beach where you’ll be renting a banca (along with a boatman/guide.) 
If you want to head straight to Anawangin Cove, take a trike to the beach at the end of Provincial Road San Miguel. There’s a boat service station that rents out boats to Anawangin.

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Tours usually include Capones island and Anawangin Cove. People travel to Capones to see the historic Faro de Punta Capones. The 65-foot lighthouse was built by the Spaniards and has been there since the late 1800s, guiding vessels safely ashore to Subic Bay. 

After which, holidaymakers head to Anawangin Cove and camp on its shores. People are drawn to Anawangin for its aguho trees jutting out of the sand and the opportunity to get away from it all. The cove doesn’t have power and the resorts in the vicinity get theirs from generators.

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Those who find Anawangin Cove a wee bit crowded—as it can be during Holy Week and the summer months—can head to Nagsasa Cove. Around 45 minutes farther from Anawangin, Nagsasa Cove is less popular but equally stunning.

Wherever you chose to stay, pitch your tent immediately after you get ashore. This way, you have a place to stash your things while you start cooking and eating. If you don’t want to laze the afternoon away, hike up the nearby hills for a better vantage point. But whatever you do, make sure to pause and take in the glorious sunset. As Zambales faces the West Philippine Sea, the view at this time is particularly breathtaking.

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*Do not forget to schedule a pick-up with your boatman the next day.


9:00pm Lights Out
Chances are, most of the campers will be exhausted by the end of the day. Retire early, or, if you’re still up and about, keep the noise down to let your fellow campers get some well-deserved rest. After all, it’s only thin sheets of fabric that separate you from your neighbors.

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SUNDAY

7:00 a.m. Back to Town
Wait for your boat on the shore to pick you up and take you back to Pandaquit.

8:00 a.m. Ohana Art Café
Break your fast at Ohana Art Café Pundaquit. The hut may be a tad too colourful and cheeky for some so early in the morning, but with good classic pinoy silog meals and free WiFi, it’s a rather happy place after roughing it for a day, isn’t it?

10:00 a.m. Culture Trip
Take a trike back to Casa San Miguel. If you’ve arranged with the staff to expect you at this hour, chances are your room is ready for you. If not, walk up to the main house and admire their featured art pieces. The Bolipata Family, who own the property, are artists: Coke Bolipata is a Julliard-trained violinist; 
Jed is a pianist; Chin, a cellist; Plet and her husband Elmer Borlongan are painters; and Rica is a writer (another sister, Non, is a lawyer). They’re also related to painter Anita Magsaysay-Ho, who has a gallery and museum named after her within the property. If you’re lucky, you might just bump into violinist Coke Bolipata, founder of Casa San Miguel.

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12:00 p.m. Backstage Café
Have lunch at Casa San Miguel’s very own Backstage Café, which serves excellent pizzas. Make sure to order the Carbonara—eating it is quite an experience, with you adding the raw egg to your dish yourself. End the meal with one of their superb desserts, freshly baked within the premises. We recommend the cheesecake.

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If you’re a history buff, you might appreciate the blown up photo of beloved President Ramon Magsaysay standing with his nephew next to a mango tree which was then planted on the premises. Yes, the former president is related to the Bolipatas of Casa San Miguel.


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2:00 p.m. Afternoon Delights

Spend the afternoon however you wish: nap in your room, sit on a tire swing, take photos (every nook is pretty and instagram-worthy), or read a book in the patio with a cup of coffee. The variety they serve is actual coffee from Starbucks, which supports the community arts program of Casa San Miguel Foundation: Center for the Arts in San Antonio. If you stay long enough for merienda, chances are you’ll be entertained by some members of the Pundaquit Virtuosi of Casa San Miguel practicing some Mozart.

5:00 p.m. One More Sunset
Head out to the beach at the end of the road and take one more look at a glorious Zambales sunset.
 

7:00 p.m. Dinner Out
Dinner at the Backstage Café is still an attractive option, but they do close early at around 7:30 or 8:00 p.m. Alternatively, check out the All Food Centrale down the Provincial Road San Miguel—a sort of food park with stalls offering affordable grub that ranges from rice toppings, steak, and burgers to Japanese, Korean, and Mexican dishes.

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MONDAY

7:00 a.m. Polvoron for Pasalubong
Have breakfast at Backstage Café before heading out to the city. Before leaving, don’t forget to pick up a pack of Polvoron of Presidents from their shop. The signature Julian’s Dream is a special polvoron that’s so good it was brought all the way to Malacanang Palace for the state dinner in honor of then US President Barack Obama in 2014. When booking your stay, do indicate that you’re very much interested in buying packs of Polvoron of Presidents so as to give them time to prepare.

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